On Monday, June 27, the Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District voted 6–1 to approve Policy 387, which “prohibits displays that do not support the board-approved curriculum. Those include postings that target only one group of students based solely on race, sex, gender, gender preference, sexual orientation/preference, religion, or national origin unless it is part of a District sanctioned club or activity. Postings that identify a student environment as safe or safer than other student environments, are also not allowed.”
They also voted to amend Policy 381, taking out the following opening statement: “Open discussion of controversial issues is the heart of the democratic process and may be included as a part of the district adopted curriculum. Through study of controversial issues—political, economic or social, youth develop abilities of critical evaluation, which are needed for responsible citizenship.” This revision is shown on a document where the statement was crossed out.
The lone dissenting vote was cast by Sheryl Cernigilia, who, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “said she thought the district should first survey community members and students.”
The policies specifically target teachers who have recently put up rainbow stickers or “Safe Space” stickers, like those provided by GSAFE, a Madison-based organization that specifically seeks to help LGBTQ youth and teachers who would support them, designate a classroom a safe space. While many use these stickers in an effort to combat bullying and mental health struggles disproportionately suffered by LGBTQ youth, those who drafted and supported this vote say that those signs exclude youth who do not identify as LGBTQ and are tools of propaganda. “They do not promote neutrality,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Andrew Matias, a supporter of the policy. “They promote favoritism and preference to a specific group and alienate others,” he continues.
Greg Loreck, a parent in support of the “safe space” signs, refutes those claims to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and states that those who want to ban the signs “have the privilege to apparently never have the need for a small sticker telling you that you are safe.” He continues, “The policy that’s in question and the vocal group that is against them is the entire reason that these stickers are needed. It’s sad to think that some kids may find it difficult finding someone that they can trust or confide in.”